The Great Dying

The Great Dying

John Bannigan

In the eighty-million-year time span from the mid-Permian to the mid-Jurassic periods, two massive extinctions occurred, as well as four of lesser magnitude. In the biggest of these, 250 million years ago, ninety-five per cent of existing plant and animal life perished.

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Space to Think

Space to Think

Ten Years of the Dublin Review of Books

We are very pleased to be publishing Space to Think, a handsome book of over 500 pages celebrating some of the finest writing from the first ten years of the Dublin Review of Books. Appearing here in print for the first time are some fifty essays on Irish, European and international literature, history and culture, drawn from the drb archive. Space to Think is published in October. Pre-order now for a special reader's discount.

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Far from Home

Far from Home

Carol Taaffe

Mia Gallagher’s new novel is a capacious one. It is difficult to capture all at once, and as such it is a work that would repay returning to. As the playful cabinet of curiositiesdevice that it features might suggest, it is also a novel that might appear very differently on each reading.

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This Island Now

George O’Brien

One of the most distinctive aspects of O’Faoláin’s ‘The Bell’ was its reportage, a genre related to British and American traditions of documentary writing, a departure from the ‘belle lettres’ conception and a socially conscious attempt to extend literature’s democratic appeal and demographic reach.

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Through the Looking Glass

Mark S Burrows

The surprises inherent in poetry serve the important function of unsettling us, of luring us into what Rilke spoke of as ‘the open’. They might even succeed in confounding our certainties, and thus widening our capacities of perception and experience.

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Travels with William

Karl Whitney

The writer William Burroughs, an experimentalist in life as well as fiction, assumes a heroic position in a new book by British neurosurgeon Andrew Lees, representing the intersection of art and science, of empiricism and experimentalism.

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Brothers in Arms

Jeremy Kearney

The British Labour Party is in deep crisis, with the majority in the constituency parties, many of them recently joined-up members or supporters, strongly in support of new leader Jeremy Corbyn while the majority of the party’s MPs are equally opposed and keen to replace him.

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Thanks but No Thanks

Mary Rose Doorly

Jenny Diski was a disturbed teenager abandoned by her parents when Doris Lessing took her into her home. She was told there was no need to feel grateful and offered freedom, space and intellectual stimulation. Love, affection and reassurance, however, were not part of the deal.

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Man of Aran

John Wilson Foster

Many cultural commentators and analysts have overlooked Tim Robinson’s many-faceted significance. Matters are now being rectified with three ambitious sets of essays, on his cartography and geography, his prose narratives and his place in Irish studies.

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Enabling the Future

Neil Buttimer

Having devoted an amount of absorbing scholarship to exploring how regressive much of twentieth century Ireland became, Tom Garvin is astonished at finding a fellow countryman of consequence in the person of the Gaelic scholar and diplomat Daniel Binchy.

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They Call It Peace

Patrick J Murray

A new collection of participants’ accounts of England’s wars in sixteenth century Ireland reveals the extreme means – starvations, burnings, decapitations, slaughter of women, children and the elderly – by which its soldiers and administrators claimed to have pacified the country.

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Let It Go

John Banville

To forget history, in particular the history of great crimes, can seem both an offence against the dead and an abdication of our duty to ensure that such crimes are not repeated. But if forgetting does an injustice to the past, remembering may well do one to the present.

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Free Long Looking

Thomas Berenato

As a Jesuit novice, Gerard Manley Hopkins once enclosed a feather in a letter to his mother, noting that ‘no one is ever so poor that he is not … owner of the skies and stars and everything wild that is to be found on the earth’. A look costs nothing, even a long look.

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The Usual Terror

Kevin Stevens

Don De Lillo seems to suggest in his new novel that literature has failed us, failed to correct the inadequacy of language or interrupt the downward curve of history. Yet that implication is denied by the work, not just by the consolation of philosophy but by the joy of his near faultless craft.

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The End

Bridget English

We may well, at bottom, be just ‘frail and vulnerable animals’, but we are more complex than other animals in our approaches to death. We must accept our physical mortality, but as humans we cannot rid ourselves of the desire for consolation or meaning.

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Hadn’t we the Gaiety?

Caitriona Clear

One writer has claimed that the singing of Percy French’s comic songs was once considered by some to be offensive, yet the best-known collection of his work, the ‘Prose, Poems and Parodies’, went into fourteen editions between 1929 and 1962 in a very nationalist Ireland.

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Small is Beautiful

Siniša Malešević

Much of the rhetoric of Irish nationalism focused on the idea of a small nation, oppressed by a larger one. The nationalism of the Balkan states, in contrast, tended to emphasise the idea of ‘greatness’, though in many important senses these were smaller polities than Ireland.

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The Malevolence of Occupation

David Lloyd

Palestine was once the hub of ideas, goods and people circulating through West Asia and North Africa: as a Bethlehem professor reminded us, the ancient caravan route used to pass nearby. Now he cannot even travel the twenty minutes to his former family home in Jerusalem without a special permit.

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A Bird Pipes Up

Billy Mills

There is always some question around the best, or perhaps the least-worst, way of translating poetry. One view is that translating verse into prose leaves out almost everything that makes the original worth reading in the first instance.

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Father of the Artist

Barry Sheils

Mike McCormack’s new novel is a successful and moving work, not least because it contains a public reckoning at its centre – a plea for accountability not typical in Irish writing, which remains overly impressed by its grim array of scapegrace dandies, scouring matriarchs and domesticated Oedipuses.

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Back to the Future

Niall Crowley

Ireland’s experience of nation-building, which in reality was a far from adventurous one, was first driven by Catholicism and cultural nationalism and then by economic development and human capital.

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The Long Note

Brendan Lowe

The opening poem in Paddy Bushe’s new collection gives a sense of an art emerging from a relationship with the natural processes occurring constantly in a particular place, processes which transcend time, while the music played is a different phenomenon from the songs ringing in the New Year down in the village.

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Sad in the Suburbs

Brendan Mac Evilly

Our image of Maeve Brennan is most often of an elegant and sophisticated woman looking very at home in a New York apartment. Her Dublin stories, however, portray frustrated lives in a respectable but constricted world, the middle class suburban world in which she grew up.

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Opening Out

Afric McGlinchey

In a collection of almost sublime purity, Vona Groarke moves from a youthful confidence inspired by love, to a state of ‘chassis’, and finally to a point where she looks outward from the confines of the symbolic house which has served her so often as an image.

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Landscapes of Displaced Desire

Tom Tracey

A debut collection of short stories is fraught in mood, yet maintains a composed tone alongside meticulous description. At times it feels like a contemporary ‘Dubliners’ written for the People’s Republic of Cork, shot through with its author’s impressive ‘descriptive lust’.

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Watching the Moods

Gerard Smyth

Coming just a few years after his ‘Collected Poems’, Macdara Woods’s new collection demonstrates the progression towards a lifelong unitary project; poem adds to poem, book to book. Because of that consistency poems from forty years ago still wear well.

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A Room of her Own

Brenna Katz Clarke

In the Hogarth Press’s series of modern adaptations of Shakespeare, Anne Tyler takes on ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, giving us a twenty-first century fairy tale involving not the defeat of a woman but her acceptance of the different roles and temperaments of men and women.

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Press Button B

A raft of books from the US suggests that as a society we have made a Faustian pact with the tech giants and there is now no getting out of it. But have we really lost all freedom of action? Could we not, individually, just turn off our phones for a few hours and go to the library?

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A Rising Diary

A journal kept during April and May 1916 reflects the experience of the Easter Rising of a professional family who lived in Dublin’s Merrion Square, a comfortable part of south Dublin but one which was in close proximity to some of the fiercest fighting.

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Brexit: 1649 or 1688?

A review of the Brexit debate as reflected in the pages of the Guardian newspaper from May 1st, 2016

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Retooling Utopia

Philip MacCann

One man’s heaven can be another’s hell. Wilde trusted in the state to appropriate the family while HG Wells favoured sterilisation of the infirm, pan-surveillance and micro-management of citizens’ personal data, criss-crossing government departments through pneumatic tubes.

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Response to James Moran

David Barnwell

A reader takes issue with remarks on Donald Trump and his politics included in the essay ‘We Know Nothing’ published in the May issue.

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Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

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Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.

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All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.

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Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.

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The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.

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A Personal Vendetta

Thomas Dickson, one of three men murdered in 1916 by the possibly deranged Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, has been accused of editing an anti-Semitic Irish newspaper. The paper, ‘The Eye-Opener’, may have been scurrilous, but it is doubtful if it was anti-Semitic.

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The Fog Persists

A week has passed and we are no wiser about who exactly was behind Turkey’s attempted coup. This is scarcely surprising as we still don’t know who was behind the country’s previous coups either. One thing, however, is certain: President Erdoğan will use it to further entrench his power.

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Ring-a-ring-a-wrangle

Many of the prescriptions and proscriptions of the Catholic church - in the days when it was able to lay down the law - appeared to make some kind of sense, while others were more mysterious. None more so than the disapproval of long engagements.

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If You Liked This ...

The digital revolution has undoubtedly brought us many benefits and made a lot of things easier, but that does not mean that we should welcome what it has delivered in its more recent phases, or what it might have in store for us in the future.

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Lost without eu

One can strike off on one's own of course, off into the North Atlantic if one wants, but what is one leaving behind? And will it eventually appear that there are a few bits missing here and there?

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Flattering the People

Many British and Irish commentators have commented on the rancorous and perhaps deluded mood of large sections the British electorate. But some prefer to turn their fire on the educated and the cosmopolitan, guilty, it seems, of gross sins of contempt and condescension.

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Au Revoir, Europe

Internationalist British journalist, sixtysomething but not a bad catch, seeks Polish, Italian, French or Irish woman with intellectual interests for quick marriage and happiness ever after in the European dolce vita.

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I do I do I do

A number of cases of bigamy which came before the courts in Edwardian Dublin demonstrate that the crime could be entered upon for a variety of motives, not all ignoble.

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Poems Upstairs: New Poets from the North of Ireland

Readings from poets featured in New Poets from the North of Ireland, edited by Sinéad Morrissey and Stephen Connolly. Wed 1 June, 7pm.

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I’ll Mind Your Money

The wives of many of the Dublin poor received an unexpected bonus during the First World War while their husbands were away at the front in the form of 'separation money'. For many this was the first regular payment they'd ever had. Unfortunately not all of them spent it wisely.

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Ideal Homes

A distant prospect of a life of ease in the Big House is intoxicating to many. Nevertheless, not everything is necessarily as wonderful as it seems and the servants in particular can be a frightful problem.

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Carcanet’s Emerging Poets: Adam Crothers, Caoilinn Hughes and Helen Tookey

Three of Carcanet Press’s finest emerging poets, all distinguished alumnae of Carcanet’s bestselling New Poetries anthology series who have gone on to publish highly successful debut collections. Sat 11 June, 6.30pm.

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The Mob and the Jews

Two years after the opening of the Nazi extermination camps there was widespread anti-Jewish rioting in Britain, resulting in the burning of synagogues, destruction of property and desecration of graveyards.

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Women Won't Wait

Not everyone in Irish political life supported women's suffrage. In fact the idea was strongly opposed by many in the Irish Parliamentary Party and by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Nevertheless, the independent state managed to get in well before the United Kingdom.

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Cakes, Ale and Learning

Lord Byron, exiled after a welter of scandals in England, found Venice a good place to pursue his normal interests of debauchery and adultery. But you can't hack that all the time without taking a rest.

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Suffragette Unionists

It is quite well known that the supposed solidarity felt between the working classes of different nations melted away fairly quickly on the declaration of the First World War. So too, apparently, did English suffragettes' sympathy for the aspiration to Irish independence.

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Don't Call Me That

Our friends the Czechs want us to call their country by a different name. But as all citizens of Ireland, Eire, the Republic, the South and the Twenty-six Counties know, this is not always a simple matter.

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New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring The Found Voice by Denis Sampson and Even the Daybreak: 35 Years of Salmon Poetry.

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World Literature

Featuring Graham Swift's Mothering Sunday and debut novel What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell.

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Irish History & Politics

Featuring new biographies of Percy French and Daniel Binchy.

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World History & Politics

Featuring a ISIS: A History and a book about Churchill and Ireland.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Patrick Deeley's memoir The Hurley-Maker's Son.

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring The Way We Die Now by Seamus O'Mahony and artist Grayson Perry's book Playing to the Gallery.

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Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring a study of welfare and healthcare reform in revolutionary and independent Ireland, The End of the Irish Poor Law?

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More New Books ...